Book Review: Donald and the Big Cheese – Netherlands

There’s a title for ya! This book is part of Disney’s Small World Library series which featured original stories based on the geography and customs of twenty-eight different countries. You can view the covers and read reviews for each book on goodreads. But only I will bring you a review with pictures!

So please read my very own review of one of these books, featuring the Netherlands:

Donald Cheese 1

7 1/2″ x 10 1/2″ with 36 pages

This series is very well illustrated and inserts some of your favorite Disney characters into a storyline created to highlight the nation being featured.

Inside leaf, back and front

Donald Cheese 3

Owner page and Title page

I was happy to see that the child who owned this previously didn’t believe in marking up books, so the owner page is not filled in with a name.

So time to look at the story: Daisy wins a trip to the Netherlands by entering a cheese recipe in a contest. She sculpts the cheese into a windmill! Soon her and Donald are on their way on the plane:

Once there, a handsome tour guide meets them. Daisy is smitten and Donald is jealous! Hans, the tour guide, takes them on a journey throughout the Netherlands.

Donald Cheese 5

Hans is making quite an impression on Daisy leaving poor Donald to struggle just to be noticed. He ends up getting into all kinds of trouble as he shows off for attention, usually ending with Hans saving him, much to Donald’s chagrin. He begins to dislike Hans!

But when Donald makes yet another mistake and Hans covers it up so that Daisy doesn’t see it, Donald has to reassess his thoughts about the tour guide.

Donald Cheese 7

Near the end of their tour, a big cheese (hence the book title) ‘escapes’ from its handlers and is going to crush Daisy, but Donald trips into its path and saves her. Now there’s a sentence I never thought I’d type!

Donald is a hero and once again he has the complete affection of his love, Daisy. And so the story ends.

A nice feature of these books is the four-page spread of Did You Know? facts about the country being featured. So let’s see how many facts you know about the Netherlands:

Donald Cheese 9

Well, I guess if your cows can produce a lake of milk, you may as well make cheese!

Back Cover

I would give this book, and by extension this series, a 4 out of 5 Stars. I’m not impressed with how stereotypical some of the titles are, playing on common perceptions and using outdated myths for many of the countries. For example, we have the Loch Ness Monster in Scotland, Mounties in Canada, leprechauns in Ireland, and painting in France, just to name a few offenders. Although these things are a part of each country’s heritage, it would have been nice to see a less obvious approach to creating the stories.

Overall though I would highly recommend this series for your children! Many of the titles can still be found on Amazon and eBay.

Magical Blogorail: Family Adventure – Weeki Wachee Springs

Welcome to this month’s Blogorail Peach Loop. Today we are discussing theme parks that would be perfect for your next family adventure. Welcome aboard!


W E E K I     W A C H E E     S P R I N G S

We’ve visited this State Park twice now, and although it isn’t as big as some of its competing roadside attractions, it still offers much to entertain the whole family!

Weeki Wachee Springs is located in Spring Hill, FL at the intersection of S.R. 50 and Hwy. 19 which places it just 45 minutes North of Tampa and 2 hours West of Orlando. The full address is: 6131 Commercial Way, Spring Hill, FL 34606.

So why should you make the trip to Weeki Wachee Springs?

SPRINGS: The Weeki Wachee River winds its way 12 miles to the Gulf of Mexico. But it starts from a spring. The Seminole Indians named the spring “Weeki Wachee,” which means “little spring” or “winding river.” The spring is so deep that the bottom has never been found. Each day, more than 117 million gallons of clear, fresh 74-degree water bubbles up out of subterranean caverns.

RIVER BOAT CRUISE: Take a ride down the pristine waterway of the Weeki Wachee River as experienced boat captains give you an educational experience about the river and the different types of natural wildlife that might be seen during the trip. This may include manatees! They have swum next to boats and have been known to interrupt the live Mermaid shows (see next entry).

You can also rent canoes and kayaks and make your own way down the river!

MERMAIDS: There are ‘real’ mermaids swimming and putting on shows for audiences in the Mermaid Theater that seats 500 and is embedded in the side of the spring 16 feet below the surface. The Little Mermaid and Fish Tails are the shows presently in production.

Ariel and her sisters (2008)

This post, and the Peach Loop in general, is to introduce you to family-friendly tourist destinations. So I feel I should put in a word of warning at this point: There be boobies!

Well-endowed Mermaids in bikini tops aren’t the only occurrence of this overt feature of Weeki Wachee Springs. Stone statues are installed throughout the park and there is a whole line of topless sirens-of-the-deep at the entrance (see opening image for reference).

 

The statues are tasteful and are no worse than what you would see in an art museum, but I just thought forewarned was forearmed. You may want to bring blinders for the little ones… or the husbands.

ANIMAL SHOWS: The animal encounters provide you with a first-hand glimpse of some of Florida’s native wildlife including alligators, snakes, birds, and others.

 

BUCCANEER BAY: Florida’s only spring-fed water park, the thrilling flume rides empty you into the pristine waters of Buccaneer Bay. Lil’ Mates Caribbean Cove (Kiddie Pool) is an area reserved for kids 6 years of age and younger.  A water play area that the kids will enjoy and where Mom and Dad can relax as a trained lifeguard supervises.

Of course, Buccaneer Bay is a seasonal offering. Please visit the official website for more detailed information, directions, and pictures.

To conclude, I’d just like to mention that the park has been used for a backdrop in many films. And Don Knotts once visited the Mermaid Theater to promote his (then) new movie The Incredible Mr. Limpet, and how cool is that?

For more information on family adventures in theme parks,
check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!


Here is the map of our Blogorail Peach | Family Adventure | Theme Parks

King ‘Mickey’ Kong Climbs New York’s Times Square

I’m always trying to find unusual things to photograph and this fun picture presented itself while I was visiting the Disney Store in Times Square, New York:

I wonder how many litres are in that Corona Light?

I wanted a shot that would show both Times Square and represent the reason for my visit which was, of course, the Disney Store. So this shot of a huge Mickey Mouse seemingly climbing the side of a building like King Kong was ideal.

Fortunately, I’m the only one who shot him!

Disney Vacation Planning for Canadians and Others

If you don’t already know, I am Canadian. And although my country isn’t exactly The Great White North anymore due to weather pattern changes, it still does get cold enough in winter to make Florida look awfully good. And warm!

On the Road: What I’m leaving behind for every Disney vacation

And to this ‘Snowbird’ it’s just a no-brainer to head to The Vacation Kingdom for that hot and sweaty two weeks of winter vacation time. But perhaps your dream vacation involves Disneyland.

Before my family’s first visit to Walt Disney World in 2005, however, we had some big decisions to make. Decisions that would apply regardless of your final destination:

  • What help was available to plan our vacation?
  • How would we travel from Canada to this U.S. destination?
  • How long would we stay?
  • Would we stay on property, or off?
  • Was there anything else we needed to know before making our final decision?

So many questions, but at the time, so few answers! So this article is intended to help my fellow Canadians, and perhaps by extension other foreigners, to plan their next Disney vacation. I’ll walk you through each of the above questions by giving you the solutions I found to create many successful visits.

What help is available to plan your vacation?

For my first visit, I used a Travel Agent. I would recommend this to anyone who is unfamiliar with travel or booking procedures. For my wife and I, it took all of the worry out of the planning stage. We merely told our Agent what we wanted to do and when, and she did the rest. Today, there are many Official Disney Travel Agents (one is attached to this site) who are experts at planning a magical visit with Mickey Mouse. We also used CAA (AAA) when we were members, and this too proved to be a fine planning resource.

    

You can also phone Disney directly and they will plan everything for you.

In my opinion, if you try to go it alone, you are likely to miss out on many things. The sheer amount of decisions needing to be made is staggering! So perhaps a final tip is to do as much research on the Disney destination of your choice as you can. I recommend buying Birnbaum’s Official Guide, or some similar publication, well in advance of your planned vacation.

How should you travel from Canada to the States?

For our first trip, to Walt Disney World, my wife and I flew. Any Canadian airport will fly you directly to the Orlando International Airport. However, at the time, we lived only 30 minutes from the Windsor/Detroit border, and so had friends drop us off at the Detroit Metro Airport. From there, it took only two hours of flying and very little time was wasted on the ground or in the air. We were able to minimize the time spent in Customs and endured lessened security checks, so keep this point in mind: The events of 911 have made travel between Canada and the U.S. more inconvenient for Canadians, so you will be subjected to more delays and stricter security measures if you leave for Florida or California from a Canadian Airport. Thusly, I recommend that you travel by car across a land border, use Park and Fly, and fly from State to State to minimize this problem.

The other option of travel is to drive. I much prefer doing this, as you can stop along the way and enjoy more of what the U.S. has to offer in the way of attractions and sightseeing. But your distance from Florida or California will determine if this is feasible.

If you will be driving to Florida, I recommend picking up a copy of Along Interstate I75 by Dave Hunter. He and his wife have made hundreds of road trips along this route and have included every, and I mean every, possible point of interest along this highway! Plan an extra day or two to stop and enjoy the culture and friendly people of each State you cross.

How long should you stay?

Up front, you should know that you have no hope of covering all of Walt Disney World in a month, let alone a week or less. So don’t worry about figuring out how many days you’ll need to cover everything. It ain’t gonna happen! So pick the number of days you will need to wind down and relax, but not so many that you will miss home and your regular routine. Remember: Next year will bring another vacation!

Should you stay on property or off property?

If you are going to fly, staying on property makes the best sense. Disney’s Magical Express will pick you up at the airport and drop you off when it’s time to leave. You just sit back and let them do the driving! Disney will even pick up your luggage at the airport and place it in your room upon arriving at your resort. Now how convenient is that? If you are planning to drive, then either option is feasible. But keep in mind that parking fees at Walt Disney World (and presumably Disneyland) can add up quickly, but can be avoided if you park at your on property resort and use Disney transportation.

Staying off property makes sense if you intend to visit several other Orlando or Anaheim attractions, such as Universal Studios, Knott’s Berry Farms, or Legoland. Choosing a spot at a central location to all of your intended destinations just makes more sense time wise and financially.

What else do you need to know before making your final vacation plans?

Plan ahead. Keep your eye on the exchange rate between the Canadian and U.S. dollars. One year you may find things at par, while another year can see Canadians losing over 25 cents on the dollar! This can severely impact your spending power on vacation. So if possible, watch the fluctuating rates, and buy your American currency when values are closest to par.

Research on Internet sites and Blogs (like this one) all of the current and upcoming discounts and promotions being offered by Disney. Again, if you’re not into spending hours on the Internet, letting your Travel Agent do the work may be best.

Be aware of attraction refurbishments and closing schedules as well as Park renovations and expansions. The Parks have many closures, especially during the off-season. Currently, both Walt Disney World and Disneyland have construction under that may limit the ‘curb appeal’ of the Parks.

DL: Seven Dwarfs Mine Train construction (2013)

My last tip is the simplest and perhaps most enjoyable: Talk to your Disney friends! They may just be the best resources you have about the Parks and how to make the most of a Disney vacation.

So now I hope you’re ready to plan that big Disney vacation. Just remember what Charles Muntz always said: “Adventure is out there!” But maybe I could add that more adventure is possible if you plan well.

I’ll see you at the Parks!

HostelWorld Language

{Editor’s Note: We interrupt our regularly scheduled Disney site to talk about a travel service that you may find interesting or helpful.  My Dreams of Disney has never used this service, so your mileage may vary, however, if you are looking for travel booking options in Europe or other areas of the world, this may prove to be useful to you.}

Are you a young college age student who is looking to travel for a while between semesters?  Or, is your conference budget small where you work, and you don’t have as much of a room budget as you would like?  If either of these questions apply to you, then HostelWorld Language is a site that you might want to check out before your next travel date!

I have never used HostelWorld Language before, but after exploring the site for a while, it kind of reminds me of many of the travel websites you can find here in the States.  The site is tailored to allow you to search many different countries for Hostels, Bed & Breakfasts, Hotels, Apartments, and even Campsites to help you find the right lodging for your needs and budget!

When I did a quick search for lodging in May, 2013, in Rome, Italy, I discovered that I could stay in a private room for three nights for two people from as low as $15.83 per night!  If I was more adventurous it might be something I considered!

If you are looking for an “Off the beaten trail” sort of experience in your travel, and you are going overseas, you might want to take a look at what HostelWorld Language has to offer!  Good luck!

{Editor’s Note: My Dreams of Disney has never used HostelWorld Language, and is not endorsing the service, just offering it up as an option for you if it fits your travel needs.}